The waves crashing along the shore –
The sun setting over the beautiful river –
The sounds of the birds as they nestle their way into their homes for the night –
I breathe in –
I breathe out –
“Why do I not do this more often?” I ask myself.
“I need to do this more often.” I tell myself.
Then the next day comes and I run myself thin, burn out, and crash into the mound of responsibilities I have created for myself.
Over and over again this cycle repeats. There must be more to life than this – right?
Can any of you relate? I have been having an amazing month of moving toward the direction that the Lord has been calling me, but WOW I have really been struggling with learning how to rest. God has been tugging at my heart to really focus on the action of resting this month and I cannot wait to share with you the fresh perspective I have on this topic.
What do you think of when someone mentions rest? Do you think of watching Netflix? Sleeping? Getting away from the kids? Spending time with the kids? Sitting alone in solitude? Pause for a moment and picture what an ideal moment of rest would look like to you.
Before this month, my “ideal” moment of rest would have been a day of me, my dog, and my fiance laying on the beach with absolutely no schedule. My perfect rest day would have been about spending time with my favorite human, my favorite non-human, and my favorite place – surrounded by the beautiful sounds of the waves, the salty air, a deflated football (because we all know they are easier to throw/catch), and sandy sandwiches. THAT must be rest, right? (Side note – my fiance is not a huge fan of the beach so that whole paragraph probably made him cringe – sorry, babe).
The more I dove into this topic, the more I realized that – although quality time with loved ones, getaways to our favorite places, and sleeping are all vital to our overall well-being – these are not the things that contribute to true rest.
1. Do we search for rest in the right places?
Isaiah 30:15-18 spoke some real conviction and life into my soul this month:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: ‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. You said ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.’
So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so he can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.”
What is your Egypt? What is mine? As I pondered over this verse, I realized that I was searching for rest in all the wrong places. Instead of “returning to Jesus and resting in Jesus,” I would fall back on phone calls to my fiance, the next episode of Grey’s Anatomy, a chapter of my personal development book, or conversations with family members.
Do not misunderstand me – ALL of those things are so important and are each actions that I believe have incredible impact, BUT if I am looking for true, reviving and sustaining rest, I cannot look for it in worldly things or worldly people (even if those people love Jesus with all their hearts). This month I have been attempting to retrain my mind to seek after the one who gives my heart true rest when I feel like I am running on empty.
2. True rest comes from spending quality time with Jesus.
NOTHING in scripture supports the idea of true rest being found on a sandy beach (or on a comfy couch), but EVERYTHING in the Word of God emphasizes the fact that the commandment to “rest” is a commandment to spend genuine time in the Lord’s presence.
Matthew 11:28-30 states, “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'”
As I was reading this scripture, I was reminded of the intensity behind the promise in the statement Jesus was making. If I go to Him when I am weary and burdened, He will give me true rest.
One evening this month I was feeling super overwhelmed and super burnt out. I knew that I needed to rest and every single part of me wanted to just sit down and zone out to some Grey’s Anatomy in order to do so. I fought the urge, though, and decided to find a quiet space outdoors, read some scripture, and pray.
I was painfully real with God about how I was feeling and about how I struggle with resting in Him. I asked Him for help in this area – for more of a desire to spend time resting in His perfect love. As I sat in God’s presence, He began to restore my weary soul in a way that no amount of Netflix would have ever been able to. That’s when I realized that good rest can be so much more than a good night’s sleep. Jesus’ rest is restorative – a revival for our spirits and minds. I began to feel full, hopeful, and rested as I filled my mind with the truth of scripture and confessed to the Savior the burdens that had been strangling my soul. Rest with Him, sweet friend, He designed you to experience His glorious presence and He will give you rest when you choose to go to Him. We do not just rest for ourselves, we rest for His glory.
3. In order to do God’s work well, we must rest and renew our souls in Him.
Mark 6:31 states, “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
Even Jesus, in the middle of His incredible mission, saw the need for rest and renewal. You were not made to be stretched thin. You were made for an abundantly full life that brings glory to your Savior. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you are too busy to spend time with God, then you are busier than God wants you to be”? I am going to dare to say that if you are truly too busy to make time for rest with your Savior, then there is something on your plate that either needs to be removed or needs to be moved to the bottom of your priority list (I AM SPEAKING TO MYSELF WHEN I SAY THIS). Lord, help us to hunger for you in a way that far exceeds our hunger for anything else in this world (Netflix included). It is okay to say no to the temporary things of this world in order to say yes to your everlasting Savior.
4. Make the time to rest – no matter what season you are in.
Exodus 34:21 states, “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working, even during the seasons of plowing and harvest.”
I love how this verse specifically speaks about resting in both the season of plowing and in the season of harvest. It’s easy for me to tell myself that I will rest once the harvest comes (work first, then play – right?), but God instructs His children to rest during the season of plowing as well. Take time to rest during the most difficult hard-working seasons so that our work will constantly radiate the Lord’s goodness and bring glory to His kingdom. The more you are renewed in Jesus’ presence, the more you will be able to offer fresh renewal to anyone and everyone you come in contact with. What an awesome opportunity to display the Lord’s goodness.
My point is this – God made us for rest. True rest only comes from spending time in His glorious presence. If you feel burdened and weary, get away with Jesus Christ. Find a quiet place – even if it’s only for fifteen minutes, locked in your bathroom – and lay your burdens at the foot of the cross. You were not created to carry the burdens of this world alone. Jesus is with you, calling you into intimate rest with Him. All you have to do is respond.
As I am about to post this, my heart is weary and burdened with the ache of missing my sweet fiance. I just got back from spending an amazing weekend of quality time with him and now I am back home, about to undergo a new week on our long-distance engagement journey. I cannot wait to open the word of God and rest with Him this evening because I know that He will renew my soul. His truth changes everything – no matter the season you find yourself in.
Thank you all for being here. You are so loved by me and so loved by your Heavenly Father. Get away with Him, sweet friend.
P.S. Toward the end of this month I purchased the book called Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I have only just begun reading this book but already 10/10 recommend it to anyone who struggles with the busy and frantic lifestyle the American culture glorifies. I’m such a workaholic and have recently been really convicted about living only to hustle hard. Sometimes I work so much and so often that I miss the beautiful season I am swimming in. My current season is so brief and so precious – I’m so tired of feeling like I’m missing it. Shauna is an amazing author and is speaking some serious God-centered truth into my heart through her writing. Seriously, if you struggle with the concept of rest and saying no, then check this out. Here’s a link to her book on Amazon if you are interested:
Check out this month’s “Take Ten” video that I recorded after a day that I desperately needed Jesus’ rest – this is unedited because I was having some serious technical difficulties with iMovie this month so bare with me lol: